Georgia Governor To Veto "Religious Freedom" Bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia has announced that he will veto the controversial “Religious Freedom” bill that the state legislature passed earlier in March.

The bill, HB 757, has faced an enormous (and growing) wave of opposition from corporations, community leaders and cultural institutions which object to granting religious institutions the right to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, CNN reports.

“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all our lives,” Deal, a self-professed Baptist, told a press conference on March 28.

Deal added that his decision to veto the bill was “about the character of our state and the character of our people."

"Georgia is a welcoming state," he said. "It is full of loving, kind and generous people. … I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason I will veto House Bill 757.”

Republican State Sen. Mike Crane has called for a special session to override the governor’s veto.

Deal’s veto comes on the heels of a nationwide backlash to a gender identity bill in North Carolina. The North Carolina bill was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, earlier in March, and it mandates that restrooms be aligned with the gender on a person’s birth certificate, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the bill, North Carolina cities and counties can also not protect citizens from sexual orientation or gender identity discriminations.

On March 28, a federal lawsuit was filed against McCrory and other state officials in regards to North Carolina's bill. The lawsuit calls for a judge to rule the bill unconstitutional.

Corporations from Google to Time Warner and Delta Airlines have joined a wave of companies opposing these anti-LGBTQ bills.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, said that if HB 757 were passed his company “can’t have a program in Georgia,” reports CNN.

The heads of Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, the NFL and others voiced similar sentiments.

Bradley West, a college student in Georgia, said he believes Deal caved to the pressures of corporate interests.

“After the NFL threatened to never give Atlanta a Super Bowl, I knew the bill would never make it past Governor Deal’s desk," West said.

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